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Willing and Willful: Which Will You Choose?

Toni Star

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I was talking with a friend several years ago and somehow we got on the topic of being willing to do something or willful—doing it one’s way…

When you think about it, these two words—willing and willful—can best describe and define a Christian or non-Christian. Recall when you waned to do something and did it willingly and then recall when you did something and did it, willfully.

Now, think about when you didn’t want to do something but wanted to do it your way—You were willful, right? And, didn’t you probably cause problems wanting to do it your way? Most likely….

Thinking back, there are many examples of pop stars, politicians and others who acted willfully, even spitefully –just so they could have it their way! Family members, myself included, have acted at times, willfully and caused great frustration and anguish.

When I think about how one acts when being willful I think of several adjectives/body languages that describe—selfish, self-centered, mean, negative, cruel—but mostly selfish. The body language would be folded hands in front of the chest, mean look, loud talking, walking away from a conversation and others.

On the other hand, when one thinks of someone acting willingly to help out, to give to others, much different adjectives/behaviors come to mind—kind, helpful, happy, positive, giving and loving. The body language this time would convey a happy countenance, smiling, opened arms, soft conversation and an agreeable attitude.

The Bible presents many examples of “willingness" and “willfulness. " Some examples of willfulness are: 1. When Moses was dealing with the Pharaoh, pleading to let the Israelites leave Egypt. The Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go, and so He and his country endured the plagues which God allowed, hoping to soften his heart and let the people go. . Eventually, he did –after his son died. The Pharaoh, because of his stubbornness allowed himself and his people go through many afflictions—covering of the land with frogs, dust becoming gnats and covering the ground, swarms of flies, swarm of locusts covering the land, venomous snakes and other afflictions.

In contrast examples of willingness show a different way of thinking and acting. Such as from Genesis 23:8 “He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf. "

And from Exodus 35:21: “and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. "

And from Exodus 35:29 : “All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do.

Lastly, from Judges 5:2: “when the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves—praise the Lord!

What a difference in behavior –willing and willful! And, what a difference in the outcome of such behavior. We see with the Pharaoh that from his willfulness, came death and destruction and from the behavior of the Israelites in wanting and willing to follow God and do what was right, that they were delivered and brought out of bondage and given the opportunity to leave and develop a new and better life…However, unfortunately it took 40 years wandering in the wilderness, because they were willful and abandoned God’s plan and purpose for them….

Then I thought about how I could make my life better and how better to deal with people who are negative and willful. I made up a small list on how I could achieve this. This is what I came up with:

1. When God wants me to do something, even though I don’t want to do it, I need to be open-minded and willing to do what He wants, for He cares about me and wants the best.

2. Be aware of areas in my life where I’m willful—such as overeating, wanting to do thinks my own way, being selfish, not giving to others when they need it.

3. Be more willing—not willful—to pray more, read the Bible more and be aware of areas where the “enemy" might attack—most likely in areas where I’ve had problems/fears before…

4. Lastly, be willing and eager to love God more than anyone or any “thing" on earth. Keep Him #1 always. By doing that I will stay willing to follow God’s plan and this will keep me free and positive!

So, what can you and I glean from all of this? You might think that it’s “hip" to be willful or cruel—that your friends might find it “cool" to be willful.

But, you know what? It might be cool and work for you for awhile— but in the end you’ll be all alone. It is wise, I think, to be “willing" to be agreeable, “willing" to help, “willing" to make a difference—this will lead to a better and longer and happier life and you will find that your life and those around you will be so much brighter, more hope than you can imagine …a newness of life that will be so refreshing…….

Which will you choose?


Biblical references from the Old and New Testaments


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